The number of drowning incidents recorded over the 2018-19 peak summer season is 50% lower than that of the same period in the year before, and more than 100 000 children were tagged in the successful Identikidz campaign on beaches.
City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health Zahid Badroodien comments on the significant decrease in drownings.
“There has been a marked reduction in the number of fatal drownings, from 19 during the 2017/2018 season to 11 in the current season, and most of these can be attributed to a decrease in risky behaviour by bathers and the increased allocation of lifeguards. The City’s Recreation and Parks Department also reviewed its drowning prevention strategy early in 2018, which included school visits to raise awareness about water safety,” he says.
In an effort to increase safety on local beaches, the department additionally located 13 squad leaders who supervised and guided lifeguards on duty.
Badroodien says that the educational programmes were carried out with the hopes that they would help to decrease drowning incidents.
“A water safety programme was introduced at schools along the coast to increase awareness and provide other important information that may reduce potential risks when swimming. Despite our best efforts, bathers still neglect their own safety.”
The Identikidz campaign, which is headed by the Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department, tagged more than double the amount of children compared to the previous year.
Reports state that there has been a 132% increase in the number of children tagged year-on-year, and a total of 535 children were reunited with their parents or caregivers during the peak season thanks to the project.
Bathers and beach-goers are advised, as always, to follow the general rules and instructions of the local lifeguards.
“I want to thank our lifeguards for a job well done thus far and commend them for what is often a thankless job. Visitors to the beach have a role to play and I implore them to remain in the designated bathing areas at all times, swim only at beaches where lifeguards are on duty, to not drink and swim, to only swim between the flags and for adults to supervise their children. Two-thirds of drowning incidents are related to problematic social behaviour. You are reminded not to bring alcohol to the beach because not only is it illegal, but alcohol impairs good judgement. Help us to keep you safe while you have fun.”
Picture: The City of Cape Town, lifeguards on duty at a local beach